Two-Lane Blacktop

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 35


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,994
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Movie Info

The surface story is a quixotic cross country road race between dapper sociopath playboy Warren Oates driving a showroom GTO and ultra-laconic proto-grunge hippie gearheads James Taylor and Dennis Wilson behind the wheel of their primer gray souped-up '55 Chevy. In director Monte Hellman's hands, however, the raw materials of an AIP hot rod flick take on dark mythic overtones while becoming a quintessential document of end-of the '60s millennialism.


James Taylor
as The Driver
Laurie Bird
as The Girl
Dennis Wilson
as The Mechanic
Rudolph Wurlitzer
as Hot Rod Driver
David Drake
as Station Attendant
Jaclyn Hellman
as Driver's Girl
David Brake
as Needles Station Attendant
Richard Ruth
as Needles Station Mechanic
Bill Keller
as Texas Hitchhiker
Harry Dean Stanton
as Oklahoma Hitchhiker
Don Samuels
as Texas Policeman
Charles R. Moore
as Texas Policeman
Tom Green
as Boswell Station Attendant
W.H. Harrison
as Parts Store Owner
Alan Vint
as Man in Roadhouse
Illa Ginnaven
as Waitress
George Mitchell
as Driver at Accident
Jay Wheatley
as Man at Race Track
James Mitchum
as Man at Race Track
Kreag Caffey
as Motorcyclist
Tom Witenbarger
as Pickup Driver
Glen Rogers
as Soldier
View All

News & Interviews for Two-Lane Blacktop

Critic Reviews for Two-Lane Blacktop

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (2)

  • It came nowhere close to the numbers on Easy Rider, but it is so much more worthwhile as a film. Indeed, I'm going to push my luck and say there has never been a better film about sweaters.

    Jun 20, 2013 | Full Review…
  • even if the Driver and co. are just passin' through, they encapsulate a whole generation lost in the rootless, directionless '70s, scorching the viewer's retina with their quest for nothing.

    Jan 20, 2012
  • Two-Lane Blacktop is a movie of achingly eloquent landscapes and absurdly inert characters.

    Dec 13, 2007
  • The strange and sometimes pathetic world of barnstorming, hustling street-racing is explored with feeling by director-editor Monte Hellman.

    Dec 13, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • This exciting existentialist road movie by Monte Hellman, with a swell script by Rudolph Wurlitzer and Will Corry and my favorite Warren Oates performance, looks even better now than it did in 1971.

    Dec 13, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Oates gives a compelling performance and musicians Taylor and Wilson supply the right degree of drifter cool.

    Aug 25, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Two-Lane Blacktop

  • Jun 20, 2016
    With little dialogue and zero character development, this is a very unique flick. There are things to like. Some of the scenery shots are beautiful and the film has a relaxing, chugging, pleasantness about it. However, what little there was of a plot fizzled out into nothingness. If you like films about nothing, this one is for you.
    Peter B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 26, 2013
    1971 was quite a year for minimalist, existential road movies, because, released just months apart were Vanishing Point, and this little gem, Two-Lame Blacktop. Of course, they were also preceded by the similar Easy Rider, but still, it blows my mind how this all happened in the span of just a few years. The plot is so bare it almost really doesn't exist. We get two guys known solely as The Driver and The Mechanic who make a living aimlessly driving from town to town across the southwest in their '55 primer gray Chevy challenging anyone they can to drag races to make a little cash for food. One day they take on GTO, a driver of the eponymous 1970 car, and challenge him to a cross country race t Washington D.C. for pink slips...and that's pretty much it. Oh yeah, and there's a girl of course. From a technical standpoint, the film is quite a marvel. I love the sparseness of it, it's got a strong sense of style that perfectly fits the era, and it's shot, framed, and edited very well. It's also quite faithful and authentic to the culture of the automobile. The performances are fine, given the material, and I'm curious as to why musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson (Driver and Mechanic, respectively), didn't take on more acting gigs. Warren Oates is also good as GTO. All in all, this isn't a film for everyone, but it's worth watching if you can tap into its specific groove, sit back, and relax.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 15, 2012
    70s road movie, unconventional at times especially once outcome of film, the main focus, 2 men roam the country racing for money and to pay their way, thiungs take a turn in their story with two events, the picking up of a young attractive hitchiker, and a guy they havew been following closely who also seems capable of a good race, once they encounter, a race is bet on in return of the others car as winnings, its here the film works diferently, and its certainly interesting, as the two guysa with women in tow, go about this race that doesnt seem to be happening, with personal intrusions coming into play, the film certainly fits its 70s time with films like this, possibly Easy rider being a influence to some degree, and while film isnt flawless its a curious watch
    scott g Super Reviewer
  • May 23, 2011
    Hellman's 1971 road picture is a genuine slice of Americana. It takes place in the general malaise of the early 70's, as the idealism of the late 1960's gave way to chaos and the harsh reality of humanity. Oates' performance is absolutely masterful and heartbreaking as a man in a constant state of reinvention in hopes to one day be grounded. Even though he is more transparent than Taylor and Wilson, there is an air of despair that hovers around all of these men as they try to create their own path in life unsuccessfully. Hellman lets the viewer go along for the ride as his camera is always placed in the backseat looking through that dusty windshield. It is an excellent piece of American cinema and a snapshot of world turned upside down.
    Reid V Super Reviewer

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